With the deportation of about 70 people of Igbo extraction by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State still fresh in their minds, Igbo people resident in the state have expressed great reservations over the possibility of voting for the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 28 and April 11 presidential and gubernatorial elections. Fashola, on July 24, 2013, had packed about 70 people of Igbo extraction, put them in a truck at night and dropped them at the Onitsha end of the Niger Bridge in the dead of the night in what he claimed was part of the efforts of the state government to rid the state of destitution.
Although he later tendered an apology for the action, many Igbo people living in Lagos have expressed apprehension over what would possibly become their lot with an APC government in Lagos and Abuja.
Speaking on the issue, Emeka Onyishi, a trader at the LadipoSpare parts market in Lagos vowed that the over 500,000 traders and artisans in the market are overwhelmingly disposed to voting for Goodluck Jonathan and Jimi Agbaje, presidential and governorship candidates of the PDP respectively in the coming elections because of what he said was a history of hate against the Igbos by Fashola and the APC.
He recalled that Governor Fashola, for no just cause, had deported Igbos in the dead of the night in an apparent expression of hate and said anyone with such a disposition is capable of doing worse if his party are handed the rulership of both the state and the entire country. “Look at what he did to the Igbos? Will anyone accept that? Even if we are foolish, there is no way we would forget that so easily,” he said. When reminded that Fashola later apologized for his action,Emeka said the apology was cosmetic and was done because of politics and not for any sincere remorse. He said the deportation was not the only issue that Igbos haveagainst the APC arguing that the relationship between the party and Igbo traders in the market has never been fair and balanced. “Look at the leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu.
For reasons best known to him, he has attempted many times to impose leaders on us in this market. At a time, he brought people that are not even doing business here to become our leaders. Does this not show that they regard us as second class citizens in the state? How can someone who does not have even a small kiosk in the market become the leader of all the traders? Does this not suggest they hate us here? We do not want this their APC. We want a government that will accept us and treat us like citizens.
And that is why the traders here have decided to vote for the PDP in the elections.” In a similar vein, Charles Obumneke, a leader of the AlabaMarket electronics leaders said time has come for Igbos in the state to show their political strength by voting out APC in the state. He said Igbos in Lagos have not enjoyed good relationships with the ruling party in the state and have decided to expressed that in their voting pattern in the coming elections. “Let me tell you, before Tinubu took over everything here, Igbos were winning elections as Chairmen of Local Governments in Amuwo Odofin, Ajeromi Ifelodun, Alimoshoand a number of other local governments.
But since Tinubu came, we have been schemed out. They have perfected the art of locking out our people from the political space and that is why we believe that the time has come for us to demonstrate our discontent by voting against a party that does not seem to want us among them,” he claimed. Obumneke also recalled the deportation of Igbos by Fashola and said the humiliating experience cannot easily be wished away “even if Fashola apologises five million times.” “How can you deport citizens of the same country and it could easily be wished away? Does it not suggest we are regarded as second class citizens here? Igbos are the biggest movers of business in Lagos.
We pay the most taxes. Yet the APC government here treats us badly. Even if those people he deported were destitutes, will Fashola claim not to know that there are tens of thousands of destitutes from other Yoruba states living here in Lagos? How possibly would he have been able to deport people from Ogun or Oyo States from Lagos? We have made up our minds that an APC government is neither good for peaceful coexistence here nor healthy for our businesses and there is no way we will vote the party in the next elections,” he declared.thecitizen.